Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches - at the Heart of the Community

Rev’d Richard’s Letter (March 2023)

March sees the feast days of two saints who are particularly important to the United Kingdom: St
David and St Patrick, the patron saints of Wales and Ireland respectively. Legend surrounds both. But
both of these patron saints seem to me to hold more sway over, and capture the imagination of,
people than the patron saint of England, George. Perhaps this has something to do with the way we
look at ourselves? Patrick and David were both British; George was not. Patrick and David were said
to have been great speakers, and to have brought people to faith in Christ by talking to them and
engaging in human relationships and interactions. George was held up as the ideal knight, and his
popularity during the crusades helped him to be established as our patron. These days, we don’t see
ourselves as crusaders or warriors. We value human relationships and we’re far more likely to get
involved with something because of the personal recommendation of a friend. St Patrick and St
David operate on a level that we instinctively respond to. But maybe it’s something even deeper
than that.

There is enough scope for historical arguments that all three saints existed outside of legend. But
George never visited Britain. Patrick and David did. They walked the countryside that we walk. They
lived in the places we still live. When you read this, I will have not long returned from a holiday in
Pembrokeshire: whilst there, I will have walked the countryside. I may have stood in places where
David stood. That is a connection between the past and present that inspires people’s hearts and
minds. I think it’s why so many people like old church buildings: when you stand or sit in one you can
feel the history of all the people who stood or sat in the same place over the hundreds of years
before you did. There is something about physical presence. We connect more readily to saints who
were physically present where we are. We value the physical presence of a church that has
remained a landmark in our communities, sometimes for as long as we have had a community.
These places connect us with our ancestors like anchors in time, whilst things around them change
and develop.

So, if you ever have the need to feel connected to those who have come before; if you ever feel the
need to experience the peace that generations of others have experienced in a place; if you want to
spend a little while feeling anchored in time, instead of being pulled backwards and forwards by
unpredictable tides: your local church is there for you. Just pop in and sit, stand or kneel. ‘Be’ in a
place, as so many others have been before.

Rev’d Richard